With challenge of gift car, novice is 1st-year wonder


Jason Smith of Hampstead has been around racing most of his life. Last year when his uncle offered him a car to race, the 19-year-old didn't hesitate to accept. There was one catch: The car was in bad shape and he would have to do all the work.

Still Smith wanted to race and even though he didn't know anything about cars, he was up to the challenge.

"I was always interested in giving it a try," said Smith. "I finally got the opportunity and jumped at the chance to see if we could. I got a couple of friends together to try it out. None of us are mechanics."

So Smith and two of his high school friends, Michael Yost and Thomas Smith, started their racing careers.

They had a lot of work ahead of them to get the car ready for racing. The car was driven in three enduros by Ron Spencer and Smith's cousin, Greg Messersmith. The first thing they had to do was straighten the frame, which was bent in an enduro race. They redid the entire car and added safety equipment that was required for the car to be legal to race in the street stock class. They made the car the way they wanted it. By the end of September, the car was ready.

Smith has become a regular in the street stock class at Trail-Way Speedway.

With the help of his family and pit crew, Smith has become one of the top competitors in less than a year. He has won a feature and has finished in the top 10 in all but two races. The best part is that the team is having a great time.

"Its been an all around great season," said Smith, who finished sixth last week. "No one can complain. It has been a great time. We all love auto racing. We have learned a lot so far, but still have long way to go. There is so much to learn."

"The turns are the most difficult," said Smith, referring to the tightness of the three-eighths-mile clay oval. "I want to try to do them the same way twice. You know it when you hit the turns right. It's a challenge for me to getting every lap the way I want it. Sometimes when I have it, I get bumped. I get frustrated at times, but love it."

Weekend results

What a weekend Brad McClelland had. The Westminster native is the hottest micro-sprint driver in the country. On Friday night at Trail-Way Speedway, McClelland won the feature to maintain his point lead. Then on Saturday night, he added two feature wins at Challenger Speedway in Indiana, Pa.

In other action at Trail-Way Speedway, Westminster's David Parrish was seventh in the micro-sprint feature, followed by Steve Owings of Westminster. Jerry Parrish of Westminster was 10th. In the 8-cylinder stock feature, Mark Shorb of Westminster was third, Butch Harvey of Westminster was sixth, John McDonogh Jr. of Finksburg placed seventh and Mick Zechman of Westminster rounded out the top 10. Jason Smith of Westminster was sixth in the street stock feature.

In sprint car action, Jesse Wentz of Manchester was seventh at Williams Grove Speedway. At Lincoln Speedway, Cris Eash of Woodbine placed fourth and Jesse Wentz 11th. Randy Zechman of Westminster was seventh in the semi-late feature. Mickey Zechman of Westminster was third in the thundercar feature.

In late model action, Gary Stuhler of Westminster won the feature at Bedford Speedway, then placed second in the North East Winners Series feature at the Cumberland Raceway on Saturday.

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